Jul 8, 2010

Book of Mormon Geography: 
Specifics or Generalities

Lately we have so many theories on Book of Mormon geography vying for attention that it is like trying to find the “true church” among all the Christian denominations.  Cordial discussions degenerate into contention, and as Joseph Smith said of his experience with such debates, "a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued ... priest [or in this case theorist] contending against priest [theorist], and convert against convert; so that all their good feelings one for another, if they ever had any, were entirely lost in a strife of words and a contest about opinions."  (JS Hist. 1:6)
Is this the type of rational discussion we brothers in the gospel should strive for?  Decidedly not!  Christ has admonished us "there shall be no disputations among you ... for verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another." (3 Ne. 11:28-9)
Discussion about this important topic should not degenerate into popularity contests or heated debates.  Rational evidence should be sought for and brought forth for impartial examination.  Nothing should be rejected out of hand, but each claim should be judged on its merits.  The criteria are all set forth in the book itself.  And then as the prophet so often said, "truth will prevail".
One of the problems seems to be that there is so little solid, on the ground, evidence to support many of the proposals.  Generalities abound, but specifics are rare.  Where are the sites Mormon goes into such detail to describe?  Where are the cities and geographic landmarks which he takes pains, on his limited plate space, to bring to our attention?
I would like to present my findings in relation to the Costa Rican model of Book of Mormon geography which are very specific and match Mormon's criteria.  These include:
The Isthmus of Rivas as the Narrow Neck of Land.
The Reventazon River as the Sidon River.
Las Lagunas in Panama as The Waters of Mormon.
The site of Barriles in Panama as the City of Nephi.
The Estrella Valley as the Valley of Alma.
The Sixaola Valley as the Valley of Helam.
The mountains from Limon, Costa Rica to Caldera as the Narrow Strip of wilderness.
The Bay of Salinas as the Bay of Hagoth.
The area east of Turrialba as the City of Zarahemla.
The city of La Suiza as the city of Gideon.  
The city of Orosi as the City of Manti. 
The area around Matina as the Land of Nephihah. 
The site of Curre as the Land of First Inheritance.  
The area around Puerto Viejo as the Land of Bountiful.  
The coastal area near the city of Limon as the site of the city of Moroni.  
The arqueological site of San Dimas as the City of Desolation.  
The area around Penas Blancas as the Narrow Pass. 
The Cerro San Gil in Guatemala as the Hill Cumorah
For more information refer to the web page Book of Mormon Cities and Lands.